By Jim Panek (photos from Jim Panek's collection)
** Originally published in the March April 1986 issue of the Crabbet Influence magazine.
It was in the late 1950s that I first saw *Serafix. He had been imported from Crabbet Stud by John Rogers in 1954 and was shown sparingly, but very successfully.
I had become acquainted with some of the earliest breeders of Arabian horses in northern California, John and Phyllis Robson. They bred two of their very best mares, Surrab (*Latif x Hawija by Ronek) and Nabiya (Abu Farwa x Ghazeyna by *Raseyn), to *Serafix - the results were two colts, Nafix and Rakafix.
At this time, I was very much a neophyte in the Arabian horse world, and the Robsons were my mentors. They invited me to attend a show at Antioch, California. Shortly after we arrived at the show grounds, the unmistakable noise of a horse very upset in a trailer was heard. Into the middle of a vacant field drove the Roger's Arabians rig. The driver and his assistant leaped out of the truck, opened the trailer, and out jumped *Serafix. For me it was like an apparition to see this gleaming chestnut stallion emerge from his trailer, hold his head up, survey all that surrounded him, and let out a scream that penetrated for miles. It is thirty years since that incident occurred, but I remember it as though it was yesterday. That was an exciting weekend for me - my first Arabian horse show, the opportunity to see *Serafix named Champion Stallion, his young son Nafix win his halter class, and the decision to breed Arabian horses to look as much like *Serafix as possible.
*Serafix was truly a magnificent specimen. At that time I Didn't know or care how good an Arabian he was; it was his magic, his charisma, his bloom, his attitude, his indescribable 'noblesse oblige' that, in my eyes, has yet to be duplicated. It was only later, after I became a more serious student of the breed, that I realized that, along with all of the things that tugged at one's heart, *Serafix was truly everything one could want in a breeding stallion. He was beautiful, typey, and refined. He had excellent conformation. He had so much quality that his skin was like tissue paper, and his veins showed through as if they were meant to be studied. He seemed a tall horse - with substance, masculinity, and power. Little did we know that he would become almost a legend.
After that initial encounter with *Serafix, I watched the first crops of *Serafix foals enter the show ring. The colts, especially, were noticeable - there were no other colts like them in the ring - and they were so like on another that no one could mistake a *Serafix son for the get of any other stallion. They were all tall, with long, high-set necks, and level toplines. The *Serafix youngsters usually looked high behind, but always balanced out by maturity and possessed the same sort of charisma their sire exhibited constantly. The success of the *Serafix -bred horses in the show ring is legend, but the year 1962, when four *Serafix daughters won National Champion Mare, Reserve National Champion Mare, and two U.S. Top Tens, stands out as being a milestone in the showing of Arabian horses.
*Serafix-bred horses are now cherished by many. The qualities they most frequently possess which are sought after are the high-set necks that come out above the point of shoulder and flow smoothly into the withers, substance with refinement, balanced structure with level toplines and high-set tails, and a basically sound, balanced, look. The inclusion of the name *Serafix in the pedigree of any horse for sale instantly spells success, and will never be a detriment. *Serafix daughters possess a regalness that stounds out.
One of the most beautiful *Serafix daughters I have seen recently is the now older mare Royal Jewel. Despite her years, she, too, looks as though she has an 'edge' on everything - truly a queen of queens. We owned the mare Fascination (*Serafix x Nabiya) for many years and every time we see her now, she, even at the age of 29, has a 'touch-me-not' attitude and shows her royal heritage in every move.
My personal use of the *Serafix line came primarily through the ownership of his son, Rakafix. Although bay instead of chestnut, Rakafix had and passed on many of the *Serafix characteristics we all still breed to keep. We also bred mares to Nafix with great success. Rakafix was bred to his half-sister, Fascination, to produce the double *Serafix granddaughter Serafine - now one of our best producing broodmares. We have bred Rakafix daughters to stallions by 'outside' sires out of Rakafix daughters to produce mares that are fantastic breeding animals.
One of the 'highs' of my horse breeding endeavors was the opportunity to meet a gentleman named Fred Rice in England two years ago. We had gone on vacation abroad, and one of the first stops on our itinerary was the Ascot show in England. During the course of this visit we met a number of English breeders, and upon learning the origin of our horses, and my keen interest in the Crabbet Stud, the consistent comment was, "Oh, you must meet Fred Rice!" When we got to the Ascot show, I was introduced to Fred, a wonderful man in his 80's. On the first day, we talked about *Serafix and the Crabbet horses, the breeding program, Lady Wentworth, and many of Fred's experiences as a key employee at Crabbet for his entire life. The next day, Fred brought three of his personal albums of the Crabbet Stud to the show, and we sat in the sun for hours looking at priceless, and rarely-to-be-seen photographs of the Crabbet horses. Fred had much to say about *Serafix - how difficult it was for Lady Wentworth to part with him, what a unique horse he was to handle, some of his habits and characteristics, and many, many, anecdotes about the ancestors of *Serafix. I think one of the most priceless gifts I have ever received was a photograph of Dargee, taken by Fred, that he gave me when we said good-bye that day. That Christmas, in his greeting card, was another priceless photo, of Naziri, to add to my memorabilia.
Despite the other horses to which I, as a breeder, have had access, and despite the fashions that have taken place in our breed over the years, *Serafix will always be an inspiration. The quality, personality, and bearing of this great stallion will remain a model for which to strive.
**All of the articles included in the re-launched Crabbet.com site from the original website, Georgia Cheer, Silver Monarch Publishing and The Crabbet Influence magazine are shared here with permission of Georgia Cheer given May 16, 2012.**